15 Best Bodyweight Glute Exercises (Blast Your Butt At Home)

As the largest muscle in the body, the glutes should be a priority in everyone’s strength training routine.[1]

Many people assume that it’s necessary to use fancy weight machines or fitness accessories to work the glute muscles, but that’s not actually the case.

There are plenty of bodyweight glute exercises that can be done with no equipment whatsoever.

These exercises don't just tone your booty and backside; they can also help boost the quality of everyday life by improving mobility, strength, flexibility, and even balance.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover the best bodyweight exercises for glutes, all of which can be done at home with no equipment needed.

Using just your body weight to work the glutes has a lot of advantages.[2]

In addition to being convenient, cheap, and effective, there’s a lot of versatility when it comes to bodyweight-only workouts, and they can range from beginner-friendly to expert-level.

The gluteal muscles take up a huge portion of the body, so it’s really no surprise that there are tons of different ways to target them.

Here are the top exercises to feel the burn throughout the entire gluteal muscle group:

1. Bodyweight Squats

One of the easiest ways to make your glutes stronger is by doing standard bodyweight squats. You’ll definitely feel the burn, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.

Proper form is the key to ensuring your squats are effective, and your movement should be slow and controlled.

Here’s how to do the perfect bodyweight squat:

  1. 1
    Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms down by your sides.
  2. 2
    Slowly begin to bend your knees while bringing your arms up in front of you. At the same time, push your butt back as if you’re about to sit in a chair. Make sure that your knees fall out, not in, and stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  3. 3
    When your thighs are about parallel to the ground, push up slowly to the standing position with your weight directed in your heels.
  4. 4
    Repeat 3 sets of 12 reps.
Bodyweight Squats

2. Jumping Squats

Adding a jump to your squat game is another great glute exercise, and it takes the standard squat to a whole new level by incorporating explosive movement.

It's definitely recommended to start with standard, non-jumping squats to perfect your form.

From there, though, you can add a jumping motion to get your heart pumping. So, in addition to working the legs, thighs, butt, and hips, you'll also be getting a pretty good cardio workout.

Follow these steps for jumping squats:

  1. 1
    Start out with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. 2
    Next, bend your knees to descend to a full squat position, using the form for a standard squat explained above.
  3. 3
    Squeeze your lower body and engage through the quads, glutes, and hamstrings and propel the body up and off the floor, extending through the legs. With the legs fully extended, your feet should be a few inches off the floor at your peak.
  4. 4
    Descend with a controlled landing by going through your feet (toes, ball, arches, heel) and descend into the squat again for another explosive jump.
  5. 5
    After you land softly, immediately repeat the next jump, and continue for 3 sets of 12 reps.
Jumping Squats

3. Hip Drives (AKA Hip Thrusts)

A hip drive, also commonly called a hip thrust in the fitness community, is amazing for a few reasons.

Not only do they tone the glutes and hamstrings, but they're also effective for improving hip mobility and flexibility.

Drives are very similar to glute bridges, which you can read about under #7, but they're done in a sitting position rather than lying flat on the ground.

If you don't feel confident doing hip drives, jump over to our page on the best hip thrust alternative exercises.

Here’s exactly what to do to perfect your hip drives:

  1. 1
    With your mid-upper back positioned against a weight bench or solid chair, bend your knees and firmly plant your feet flat on the ground in front of you.
  2. 2
    Play around with foot position, but do your best to keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle at the top of each rep.
  3. 3
    At the start, keep your hips bent near the ground, and when ready, squeeze your glutes and hammies as you raise your hips forward and upward.
  4. 4
    Keep your back pressed firmly against the weight bench and slowly lower back down with a controlled movement.
Hip Thrusts

4. Reverse Leg Lifts

Reverse leg lifts are possibly the easiest lower body exercise you can do without using equipment. Even so, they’re extremely effective and known to show results when done regularly.

The main goal when doing leg lifts is to try and isolate the gluteus muscles, and use those muscles to drive your leg upwards.

It’s actually quite easy to do, even for beginners, and you’ll feel the burn in your backside after just a few reps.

Here’s how to do a proper reverse leg lift:

  1. 1
    Lying facedown on the ground in the starting position, rest your face on your arms, which should be bent out in front of you.
  2. 2
    With your legs extended in a straight line behind you at hip width, slowly raise your left leg straight upwards towards the ceiling.
  3. 3
    Take the straight leg as high as it can go while keeping your hips square to the ground and your foot flexed from start to finish.
  4. 4
    Slowly bring your leg back down to the starting position, and complete 12 reps before switching to the right leg.
Reverse Leg Lifts

5. Ski Jumps

Similar to squat jumps, ski jumps are a combination of glute isolation and cardio. Even without equipment, it’s a very high-paced plyometric workout that strengthens the legs, glutes included. 

Although the movement itself isn’t too difficult to master, this is an intense exercise that requires a fair bit of endurance.

Be prepared to feel out of breath after a few reps, especially if you try it out with resistance bands.

Here’s how to do the perfect ski jump using just your body weight for tension:

  1. 1
    Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed forwards.
  2. 2
    Squat and slightly bend your knees, lowering your butt towards the ground, almost as if you're skiing down a low-grade slope.
  3. 3
    As you push up through your heels, launch your body up and sideways to land about 2 feet to the right of your starting position.
  4. 4
    Absorb the impact by landing softly and cushioning with your knees and hips as you sink into the squat position again.
  5. 5
    Repeat the movement, this time jumping towards the left knee.
  6. 6
    Continue to jump right and left, keeping the knees soft and glutes and core engaged. Try to continue for 30 seconds without stopping, and take a short break in between sets.
Ski Jumps

6. Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian split squats have a lot in common with single-leg lunges, and they work the inner thighs in addition to the gluteus medius and maximus muscles.

The biggest difference between Bulgarian squats and lunges is that you’ll be stabilizing the back leg instead of the front leg.

The back leg needs to be elevated on a stable surface, so grab a weight bench or sturdy chair before getting started.

If you don't feel stable enough to do split squats, no worries! We've got you covered with the best Bulgarian split squat substitute exercises.

Here are the exact steps for Bulgarian split squats:

  1. 1
    Get in your starting position by standing about 2’ in front of a knee-level bench, chair, or step.
  2. 2
    Lift your right leg up and back, and place the top of your foot on the bench behind you. Your feet should still be about shoulder-width apart, and your left foot should be far enough in front of the bench that you can comfortably lunge.
  3. 3
    While keeping your core tight, lean your upper body forward with a slight hinge in your waist and begin to lower down on your front foot (left leg), bending one knee into a lunge position.
  4. 4
    For a glute-dominant Bulgarian split squat, stop lunging when your left thigh is parallel to the ground with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  5. 5
    To rise, push up through your left foot by using the power from your quads and hamstrings to return to standing.
  6. 6
    Repeat for 12 reps before you switch sides by putting your left heel up on the bench and your right leg out in front.
Bulgarian Split Squats

7. Glute Bridges

A glute bridge primarily activates the glutes, and it's extremely helpful for increasing core stability and strength.

The movement is straightforward, targeting the gluteus maximus muscles and the hip flexors.

If you want to increase the challenge, place a resistance band above your knees before getting into the glute bridge lie-down position.

Here’s how to perfect the glute bridge:

  1. 1
    Lie on your back and set your knees about hip-width apart. Place your feet flat on the ground in front of you and keep your knees bent. Make sure your toes are pointed straight forward and that your heels are 6-8” inches from your glutes.
  2. 2
    Slowly raise your hips towards the ceiling, squeeze your glutes, and tighten your abs.
  3. 3
    Avoid arching your back as you lift your hips as high as possible. Ideally, you will elevate your hips until your torso makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. 4
    Once you reach the top of the glute bridge, squeeze your glutes as tightly as possible and hold for a few seconds before lowering your hips down to the ground.
Glute Bridges

8. Single Leg Glute Bridges

A single-leg glute bridge is a unilateral variation of the standard bridge, which means you’ll be isolating both sides of the body individually.

For maximum results, try to do 2 to 3 sets of 12 sets on each side, but the key is to maintain good technique throughout the exercise.

Here’s what to do for a single-leg glute bridge:

  1. 1
    While lying face-up on the ground, keep your arms straight by your sides and palms facing down. Bend your knees exactly as you would with a standard bridge, and be sure to keep your spine and pelvis in a neutral position.
  2. 2
    Engage your core as you lift your left leg straight off the ground, extending it out in front of you. Your right leg should be bent with both knees next to each other at all times.
  3. 3
    To begin the upward movement, squeeze your glute while pushing your right foot into the ground. Keeping your left leg elevated, push your hips toward the ceiling to reach full hip extension. Pause at the top of the movement before lowering back down.
  4. 4
    To begin the downward movement, hinge from your hip and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of reps before you switch legs.
Single Leg Glute Bridge

9. Clamshells

The clamshell isn’t the most well-known glute exercise, so it’s no surprise if you’ve never heard of this one.

Clamshells are named for the way your legs and hips take shape when performing the movement, similar to a clamshell. They’re especially great for working each inner thigh in addition to the glutes and hips.

Here’s how to do the perfect clamshell:

  1. 1
    Choose a side to lie on, keeping your legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle.
  2. 2
    Rest your head on your lower arm, using your top arm to keep steady. Avoid leaning your top hop backward, as this is a very common technique error for clamshells.
  3. 3
    Engage your abdominals by pulling your belly button in, which should also help to keep you stable and avoid rocking to either side.
  4. 4
    Keeping your feet touching at the ankles, raise your front knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis. Your lower leg should remain planted on the floor.
  5. 5
    Pause the movement at the top before returning your upper leg to the starting position on the ground. Perform 20 reps on one leg before switching.
Clamshells

10. Sumo Squats

We've already mentioned two types of squats to help strengthen the glutes, so let's add another variation into the mix… the sumo squat.

Sumo squats are essentially just regular squats with a wider stance. It’s a greater challenge that can improve lower body strength even further than a basic squat.

To get your form right, it’s recommended that you start out with basic squats first before moving on to the sumo variation.

Here’s how to do a sumo squat for glute strength:

  1. 1
    Start out by standing with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Keep your toes pointed outward at about 45 degrees and your hips rotated outwards.
  2. 2
    Inhale as you push your hips back and lower down into a squat position. Keep your core tight, back straight, and knees forward throughout the movement, and hold at the bottom for several seconds.
  3. 3
    Exhale as you move back up into the starting position. Do your best to keep your weight evenly distributed throughout the heel and midfoot.
  4. 4
    For more of a challenge, hold a barbell at your collarbone just below your chin, or use a set of dumbbells.
Sumo Squat

11. Lunges

Lunges are a common lower body workout, and not just because they require no equipment whatsoever.

Whether you do a lateral lunge (side lunge), curtsy lunge, or classic lunge, this exercise builds the glutes as well as the quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Here’s how to do lunges the right way:

  1. 1
    From a comfortable stand-tall position, step your right foot about 2 to 3 feet ahead of your left foot. Stagger your feet, so they're not directly in front of one another - think "train tracks." Keep your legs straight with a very slight bend at the knee.
  2. 2
    As you engage your core, tuck your hips so that your low back is not arched and your pelvis is aligned with your rib cage.
  3. 3
    While inhaling, bend both knees to 90 degrees until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Keep your hands resting on your hips to allow them to remain straight (rather than tipping forward or backward).
  4. 4
    At the bottom of your lunge, your right shin should be nearly perpendicular to the floor. Hold the position for several seconds before pushing back up.
  5. 5
    Return to your starting position by exhaling while you push through both feet and squeeze your glutes to stand.

Also Check Out - Split Squats Vs Lunges

Lunges

12. Curtsy Lunges

There are several variations of the classic lunge, like the curtsy lunge. It may sound like a girly movement, but it can actually be quite challenging - not to mention effective.

Just like a classic lunge, the curtsy lunge works to target the quads and gluteus maximus.

However, it also engages some additional muscles that are often neglected, including the gluteus medius and hip abductors.

Here’s how to do a proper curtsy lunge:

  1. 1
    Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms relaxed, down at your sides.
  2. 2
    Put your weight into your right foot as you step back and around with your left foot — almost as if you’re curtsying. Allow your arms to come up in front of you, and stop lunging when your right thigh is about parallel to the ground.
  3. 3
    Begin to straighten your right leg, pushing up through your heel while returning your left foot to the starting position.
  4. 4
    Repeat 10-12 reps before keeping the opposite knee forward.
Curtsy Lunges

13. Squat Jacks

No matter what type of squats you do, you’ll have no trouble lighting up your quads and glutes.

That’s especially the case when it comes to the squat jack, which is considered the “cardio king” of the squat family.

As you could probably gather from the name, this exercise is a hybrid of the classic jumping jack and standard squat.

The explosive motion of the jumping jack focuses on cardio, while the squatting motion fires up the glutes.

Want to do the perfect squat jack? Here’s how:

  1. 1
    Standing with your feet together and your hands at your sides, jump your feet out wide into a sumo squat position.
  2. 2
    Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees, ensuring they don't go past your toes. Then, land lightly on your feet while keeping your weight directed in your heels and your butt down. At the same time, cross your forearms in front of your chest.
  3. 3
    Still engaging your core, jump your feet back together while you raise your arms overhead.
  4. 4
    Continue without pausing, aiming for 1-minute of continuous movement before taking a break.
Squat Jacks

14. Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are accurately named after the kicking motion of a donkey, but don’t be fooled. While the terminology may be humorous, donkey kicks are no joke.

As long as they’re performed correctly, this exercise is extremely effective for isolating the largest of the gluteal muscles, the gluteus maximus.

There’s a lot to gain from adding donkey kicks into your glute strengthening routine, and you need only your bodyweight.

This is an excellent way to work the right and left glute independently.

Here’s what to do to perfect the donkey kick:

  1. 1
    Starting in a kneeling position, get on all fours with your hands stacked directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Make sure your back is flat so that you’re in a true tabletop position. 
  2. 2
    Without rounding your spine, engage your lower abs. As you keep the 90-degree bend in your right knee, slowly lift your right leg straight back and up toward the ceiling while keeping the foot straight and flexed. 
  3. 3
    Keep your hips squared off towards the floor. If you feel your hips begin to rotate, you’ve gone too far.
  4. 4
    Slowly bring your leg back down, and repeat 10-20 reps before switching sides.
Donkey Kicks

15. Single Leg Deadlifts

Another unilateral movement for the glutes is the single-leg deadlift. This requires some serious balancing skills, so keep that in mind if your balance is not up to snuff.

At first glance, this exercise may seem pretty basic. In actuality, it’s harder than it looks, making it a great choice for powering up the glutes as well as improving balance.

Here’s how to do the perfect single-leg deadlift (hopefully without toppling over!):

  1. 1
    Stand tall with both feet under your hips, then slowly start to shift your weight to the right leg, which should have a soft bend in the knee.
  2. 2
    Begin to drive your left foot back like you're stamping the bottom of your foot on the wall behind you, keeping your leg straight.
  3. 3
    At the same time, slowly start hinging at the waist, tipping your torso forward until it’s almost parallel to the floor.
  4. 4
    Keep your arms straight at shoulder height and perpendicular to the floor at all times. Once your torso is parallel to the floor, your body should be in a straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your left foot.
  5. 5
    Hold for 1-2 seconds, then begin pulling your left leg forward while keeping it straight, lifting your torso up until you’re standing again.
  6. 6
    Repeat the desired number of reps before switching sides.
Single Leg Deadlifts (Bodyweight)

Benefits Of Bodyweight Glute Training

Glute strength is about way more than having a great butt.

What’s more important is that glute activation can make a big difference in your everyday movements and overall mobility, including balance and flexibility.

Here’s what Methodist Health System has to say about why it’s important to strengthen the glutes[3]:

"Strong gluteals are important for proper pelvic alignment, propulsion during walking and running, and even standing on one leg. Gluteals also help support the lower back during lifting, and help prevent knee injuries." 

But why opt for bodyweight moves over using weight machines, resistance bands, or other gym equipment? Well, there are a few reasons to use only your body weight, like:

  • Bodyweight glute exercises can be done anywhere, anytime
  • All fitness levels, including complete beginners, can work their glutes using just their body weight and nothing else
  • It’s a much cheaper alternative to buying expensive weight machines or having a gym membership
  • When using bodyweight, there’s much less risk of injury compared to using weight machines and other forms of resistance
  • Bodyweight glute workouts are extremely safe and effective as long as their performed correctly and regularly

How To Properly Train Your Glutes Without Weights

There are so many exercises you can do at home to train the legs and glutes - just take a look at the list above to get started!

Because you won’t have access to fancy equipment, it’s sometimes necessary to get creative with bodyweight training.

There are a few different strategies for weight-less strength building, including:

Isometric Training

Isometric movement is when the muscle is contracting while working against tension, but it's without joint flexion or extension.

It's a very small movement popular in workouts like Barre and Pilates because it's great for activating specific muscles, especially when done through wall sits, planks, and glute bridge holds.

A recent post from Mayo Clinic says that “isometric exercises can be useful in enhancing stabilization — keeping the affected area's position. These exercises can help because muscles often tighten without movement to help stabilize joints and your core.”[4]

Resistance Band Training

Using resistance bands is a great way to kick your glutes into gear. They allow you to easily add tension to your workout but don't cost nearly as much as weight machines.

Suggested Gear - 8 Best Resistance Bands

Plyometric Training

Plyometric workouts use the speed and force of different movements to build muscle power. The high intensity incorporates both muscle building and cardio.

See Related - 9 Best Plyometric Boxes

Unilateral Exercise Variations

Single-legged variations of certain glute exercises are a great way to target each side of the body.

They make it possible to distribute more load towards one glute than the other without weights or tools.

Manual Resistance

If you’re working out with a partner, you can easily use manual resistance to take things up a notch.

It allows you and your workout buddy to work against each other to create increased tension that can be easily adjusted.

Warm Up & Cool Down

There are two more key components for strength training, even if it doesn’t include weights: warm up and cool down.

To warm up for your leg day, it’s recommended to do 10 to 15 minutes of light cardio.

You can hop on the treadmill, climb stairs, go for an easy jog, or use your stationary bike - just be sure to get your blood pumping and your muscles loose.

Stretching is the best thing you can do to cool down.

You can give your muscles some extra TLC with a foam roller, but any form of stretching will do as long as you target the muscles that were worked.


Common Bodyweight Glute Workout Questions

Can you even grow glutes with bodyweight exercises only?

Yes! You don’t need a fancy weight set or machines to strengthen and elongate the glutes. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to start building glutes, especially for beginners.

How many times a week should I work my glutes?

Depending on your fitness goals, you can focus on your glutes anywhere from 2 to 6 times per week. Just remember to keep things light if you’re new to training these muscles to prevent muscle injury, which we can all agree would be a major setback.

Are the glutes the hardest muscle to grow?

Not at all. It’s actually very easy to grow the glutes, even without the use of weights. In fact, something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator can improve glute strength. 

HealthTimes says that “a highly underrated and under-targeted muscle group, the glutes are easy to grow through some simple lower body exercises. Squats, lunges, step-ups, glute bridges, and resistance machines such as the leg press are all great for building your glutes.”[5]
How long does it take for the glutes to grow?

The amount of time it takes to see results depends on each individual, particularly each individual’s motivation and fitness regimen. In general, you can start to see serious results in 6 to 8 weeks, but this is entirely dependent on how regularly you work out as well as your diet and lifestyle choices.

How do I know if my glutes are engaged when exercising?

You’ll be able to feel it! With proper muscle engagement, you should be able to feel your glutes contracting (tightening). You’re also likely to feel the tension in your quads, hamstrings, and lower back.

Can you build a bigger bum without squats?

Doing squats is just one of the many ways to build the booty. In fact, Self says that “squats are actually not the greatest for glute activation because there is a lot of quad engagement with them… If you don’t want to do squats, you can do other exercises that will target the glutes even better because they are taking the quads out of the equation.”[6]


Conclusion

No matter your reasons for wanting stronger glutes, there’s no need for fancy equipment or monthly gym memberships to make it happen.

As long as you practice the right form and work out regularly, you can get buns of steel using only your body weight.

Don’t be afraid to get creative, but to start, refer to the 15 exercises in this guide.

References: 

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538193/
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/the-advantages-of-body-weight-exercise
3. https://bestcare.org/news/3-reasons-strong-glutes-are-important
4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/isometric-exercises/faq-20058186
5. https://www.healthtimes.co.uk/fitness-exercise/maintaining-muscle/what-are-the-easiest-muscles-to-grow-in-later-life
6. https://www.self.com/gallery/no-squat-workout-for-butt 

Paul J

Last Updated on December 21, 2022